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Previous BotM--DISCUSSIONS > 2009-08 Consider Phlebas - final thoughts? Haiku? Limericks?

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message 1: by Ron (new)

Ron (ronbacardi) | 302 comments August is nearly over (will this month never end?), so, does anyone want to sum up their experience of or feelings toward the novel? Before it was BOTM I had not intended to reread it, but I am quite glad I did; I had remembered the mayhem but not the melancholy of the book, the senselessness of most (if not all) the deaths and the way the various faiths motivated them. I am reminded of a tee-shirt of my brother's, which reads "Everyone needs to believe in something, so I believe I'll have another drink."


message 2: by Nick (last edited Sep 08, 2009 07:04AM) (new)

Nick (doily) | 966 comments (Spoilers here!) In another thread I commented that the story was even more poignant to me when I realized that Horza was the last of his race -- but William corrected me to say that even though all the Changers who had moved to Idiran were massacred, and even though the appendix tells us that the Changers were wiped out at the end of the Idiran War, the Changer homeworld was still intact at the time of Horza's death. Correction noted.

I think I still like to delude myself and think of Horza as the last of his line. Extinct is Extinct. By the time of the end of the Idiran war the Changers are gone. Perhaps in another Culture novel, the timelines won't mesh with that thinking, but for now I'll keep my delusions.

I went on from this book to read Matter which is set hundreds of years after the Idiran war and in a completely different part of the galaxy. So far it's wonderful, giving a great deal of information about The Culture. It's chiefly set on a world whose social environment reminds me a great deal of a Western, filled with cattle rustling (weird space cattle), saloon fights and a lot of "Who's gonna run the ranch now?" talk. And about 3/5ths of the way through there is a great explanation of Banks's own ideas about abject violence and horror, putting a whole new light (for me) on his thrillers as well as his sci-fi.


message 3: by Ron (new)

Ron (ronbacardi) | 302 comments Well, Horza is certainly among the last generation of Changers, and perhaps the attention he brings contributes to their ending. Close enough, I'd say.

And now I have to re-read "Matter" because I think I missed the explanation you mention. That's not a complaint; I don't mind re-reading that one at all.


message 4: by Ron (new)

Ron (ronbacardi) | 302 comments So far this is the best I can do:

A Mind that belongs to the Culture
Is sought for by Horza the vulture;
Two green lizard men
Kill his whole team and then
They earn their train-station sepulture.


message 5: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1667 comments Mod
*standing ovation*

Ron, that's priceless! I hope you'll do another limerick for next month's SF book :)


message 6: by Nick (new)

Nick (doily) | 966 comments Ron wrote: "Well, Horza is certainly among the last generation of Changers, and perhaps the attention he brings contributes to their ending. Close enough, I'd say.

And now I have to re-read "Matter" because ..."


It's when Ferbin and Holse go off-planet and speak with the ex-Culture CS representative whom Ferbin knew in his youth. (Xile? Is that the name?) He rhapsodizes on philosophy to Ferbin, the nature of life and the universe, etc., and the title of the book is brought forward.



message 7: by Peregrine (new)

Peregrine Ron wrote: "So far this is the best I can do:

A Mind that belongs to the Culture
Is sought for by Horza the vulture;
Two green lizard men
Kill his whole team and then
They earn their train-station sepulture."


Standing O from me too! Excellent!

Which is the next book in the Culture series?




message 8: by Ron (new)

Ron (ronbacardi) | 302 comments I borrowed this from Wikipedia:

The Culture novels comprise (in publishing and mostly chronological order):

Consider Phlebas (1987)

The first Culture novel. Its protagonist is working for the religious Idiran Empire against the Culture. A rich, although basically linear story about rescuing one of the artificial sentiences of the Culture, it takes place against the backdrop of the galaxy-spanning Idiran War.

The Player of Games (1988)

A brilliant though bored games player from the Culture is entrapped and blackmailed to work as a Special Circumstances agent in the brutal stellar Empire of Azad. Their system of society and government is entirely based on an elaborate strategy game.

Use of Weapons (1990)

A non-linear story about a Culture mercenary called Zakalwe. Chapters describing his adventures for Special Circumstances are intercut with stories from his past, where the reader slowly discovers why this man is so troubled.

The State of the Art (1991)

A collection of short stories (some Culture, some not) and a Culture novella. The (eponymous) novella deals with a Culture mission to Earth in the 1970s.

Excession (1996)

Culture Minds discover an Outside Context Problem: something so strange it could shake the foundations of their civilisation.

Inversions (1998)

Seemingly a Special Circumstances mission seen from the other side – on a planet whose development is roughly equivalent to 13th Century Europe. This novel is not labelled as "A Culture Novel", but is widely regarded as being set in the same milieu.

Look to Windward (2000)

Sequel of sorts to Consider Phlebas. The Culture has interfered in the development of the Chel with disastrous consequences. Now, in the light of a star that was destroyed 800 years previously during the Idiran War, plans for revenge are being hatched.

Matter (2008)

Djan Seriy Anaplian, a Special Circumstances agent, returns to her war-torn feudal world. The Culture has to decide whether or not to involve itself in this world's problems.

--------

I gather that Banks' new novel, "Transitions", is not a Culture story.


message 9: by Peregrine (new)

Peregrine Ron wrote: "I borrowed this from Wikipedia:

The Culture novels comprise (in publishing and mostly chronological order):

Consider Phlebas (1987)

The first Culture novel. Its protagonist is working fo..."


Thanks, Ron. Much as the violence in CP grossed me out, it's the ideas and thoughts in the story that stay with me, and I find myself looking forward to reading another Culture novel at some point.




message 10: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1667 comments Mod
The next two books in the series (Player of Games and Use of Weapons) are excellent. Highly recommended - if you liked Consider Phlebas, these two will blow your mind. I also really liked Matter, the latest book in the series.


message 11: by Peregrine (new)

Peregrine I think I'll move on to Player of Games, when it's time to pick up a Culture book again. Damage was one of the pieces that lit my imagination.


message 12: by Nick (new)

Nick (doily) | 966 comments I went into "Matter" immediately after "Consider Phlebas" and everything made complete sense and added logically to what you know about the Culture from CP. "Matter" is wonderful!


message 13: by William (new)

William (williamjm) Peregrine wrote: "Thanks, Ron. Much as the violence in CP grossed me out, it's the ideas and thoughts in the story that stay with me, and I find myself looking forward to reading another Culture novel at some point."

There's a fair bit of violence in some of the other Culture books as well, but plenty of interesting ideas as well (I'd say that Use of Weapons and Player of Games in particular are much better than Consider Phlebas).




message 14: by Peregrine (new)

Peregrine I'm encouraged to hear from a few people that subsequent books are better crafted than Consider Phlebas.


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